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Underground with the Norgs

One day a daring hunter pursued a fleet and sure-footed chamois buck far away from his usual tracks and far from the country he was familiar with. At last he found himself at the entrance of a low-arched cavern. Night was about to fall and the sky boded threatening weather, so he was glad to creep within this shelter till the light of morning should let him find his way home again.

He had not gone far into the dim corridor when he saw that when he got farther from the light of day, the cave became brighter instead of darker. He looked around to find out of this strange thing, and then he noticed the walls were encrusted with gold and precious stones. That was why the walls reflected sparkles of light. He came to realise that he must have reached one of the places of the mountain-folk - they were Norgs who lived in the hearts of mountains.

He was afraid of what the Norgs would to to an intruder, and tried to escape when he felt something soft under his feet. It was a red hood or cap, dropped there by one of the mountain-folk, a camouflage cap, a Tarnkappe. It made its wearer invisible to men and also enabled him to get into any part of the underground settlement.

He had scarcely placed it on his head when one of the little men of the mountain came running up to look for his lost cap. The hunter told the dwarf that he had heard the wearer would be able to visit his beautiful underground territory of the Norgs, and asked the Norg to let him in.

The dwarf had no other choice than to take the hunter into the underground kingdom to see all the hidden treasures there. The hunter delighted so much in all the astonishing things he saw that his guide started to feel for him a bit, and told him how they arranged themselves in the mountains. They were divided into three groups: Some wore red caps and were gay and good-natured and filled with goodwill towards mankind too, despite many wild pranks. Others wore brown caps. They were more miscievous, so what they thought was fun, was mingled with malice. Those with black caps were always gloomy and morose and boded evil wherever they went.

The hunter's guide advised him to have nothing to say to these, but he could speak with some who wore red and brown caps. The hunter soon did. They were pleasant and sociable and ready enough to tell him their thoughts. One thing that amused the hunter was that they could not understand full well what lay outside their world.

The hunter was now shown warrior dwarfs in jewel-studded, shining armours and with diamond swords. The dwarf companion had nothing special to show after this. He sighed over the gloriesdiamond sw of the past. He paused long, as at last said:

"We still have some power and some riches left, and some of our ancient strength. We are able to surprise you with shows of riches and power, but we are today dwindling race."

The hunter: "Who got the better of your folk? Please tell."

The dwarf led him into a delicious alcove of opal rock and started to tell the story of The Rose-Garden of Lareyn, the Last Norg-King. — Next page]

[Abridged]

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Gentlemen don't bite each other. (Tyrolean Proverb)

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